By Nick Said
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Sacked Australia captain Steve Smith and David Warner have both been banned for 12 months for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town, Cricket Australia (CA) announced on Wednesday, after uncovering a web of lies told by the players after they were caught.
Opening batsman Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months following the scandal, which has outraged the fans, jolted the sponsors and prompted CA to send the players home from South Africa.
The trio will be allowed to compete in club cricket, but cannot take part in state or international games for the duration of their bans.
“David Warner will not be considered for team leadership positions in the future,” CA said in the statement, having fingered him in developing the plot.
Smith and Bancroft will have to wait two years before they are considered for leadership roles, and even then it will “be conditional on acceptance by fans and the public”, according to CA.
Each player must also complete 100 hours of community service before being considered for future selection, while it was confirmed that the cheat had been confined to the trio only, exonerating team mates and coach Darren Lehmann of any wrong-doing.
“This is a terrible situation. There are three guys going home that have been offered sanctions that are life-changing,” Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland told reporters on Wednesday.
“There is a rebuild that needs to happen to reinstate the faith and the confidence, and I guess the pride that the Australian public had and should have in the Australian cricket team.”
A key finding was that Bancroft had in fact used sandpaper to rough up the ball in the third test at Newlands, and not sticky tape as he stated, though Sutherland doubted this showed the cheat had been planned prior to the match or the days’ play.
“I’m not sure it’s normal procedure, but I do understand that sandpaper is often in the dressing room or in the players’ kit bags,” he said.
Warner was also found guilty of “provision of advice to a junior player (Bancroft) regarding how a ball could be artificially altered including demonstrating how it could be done”.
Part of the findings against Smith and Bancroft were that they had mislead both the umpires on the field of play, and the public in a press conference as to the “the nature, extent and participants of the plan”.
While Smith and Bancroft were both found guilty of “knowledge” of the plan to cheat, a CA statement credits Warner with the “development” of the plot, suggesting he was the instigator.
All three have the right to appeal their sentences.
Sutherland also said that there would be a review into the team culture and conduct of players.
“Questions (are) obviously being asked of lots of people as to why or how that might have happened,” he said.
“That’s part of the purpose of later discussion and review. We’ll clearly take on board whatever comes out of such investigations.
“We cannot have this happen again. It’s just unquestionable and so obvious. If there are things that allow little things to turn into big things that allow this to happen, then you’ve got to go back to the core and find out what the little things are and address them. That is what we’ll be doing.”
Smith and Warner have also been stood down from their Indian Premier League (IPL) teams for 2018, representing a significant loss of income after the Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad had paid $1.84-million respectively for their services.
“We have decided to bar them from this season. The replacements will be made available to the two teams,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla told reporters.
There is more financial fallout possible with multinational electronics company LG having already said they will not renew a sponsorship with Warner, while several other partners of Cricket Australia are reviewing their positions in light of the embarrassing scandal.
The trio will be replaced for the fourth and final test at The Wanderers in Johannesburg by opening batsmen Matthew Renshaw and Joe Burns, as well as all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.
South Africa lead what has been a tempestuous series 2-1 having not enjoyed a home test series success against the Australians since 1970.
(Additional Reporting By Ed Cropley; Editing by Christian Radnedge)